1996 32¢ Raven Dance
American Indian Dances
Issue Date: June 7, 1996
City: Oklahoma City, OK
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
The Raven Dance of the Pacific Northwest Coast is shrouded in mystery. Some say this is because the dance is too sacred to be revealed, others say there is no such thing as the Raven Dance.
Traditionally, Native Americans have relied on storytelling to transmit tribal beliefs and traditions. Raven originated as the chief protagonist in the stories of Tlingit people of southeastern Alaska. A playful trickster, full of intelligence and curiosity, Raven is sometimes the cultural hero and sometimes an alternately clever and stupid bird-human whose voracious appetite and eroticism leads to violent and amorous adventures. Raven stories, primarily designed to teach children their lineage and proper behavior, are told by dancers wearing elaborate and sophisticated Raven masks mimicking the movements and sounds of this very expressive bird.
Because Raven stories deal with clan origins, they are the property of the clan and are not well suited for general usage. Consequently, there is no universal Raven Dance but a series of clan-specific Raven dances.
Raven dances, as well as Coyote and Mink dances, are held sacred by some tribes and not by others. For the tribes that revere them, they are the principal ceremonial events performed during the long winter months.